Twitter has published its latest Transparency Report, which covers the first half of 2017 and mostly relates to requests for intervention in content posted on Twitter by government entities. Amongst the other data in there, though, Twitter has also reported specific numbers on the accounts removed from the service over promotion of terrorism, a total that has reached over 900,000 accounts since August 2015. Importantly, the vast majority of those accounts were taken down not because of any report by a government agency but because Twitter’s own in-house tools flagged the accounts, often before they even began tweeting. That represents good progress over the last couple of years in this particular area, but Twitter remains poor in policing abuse in general on its site, as several reports from BuzzFeed and other news outlets have shown. In relation to that issue, it’s notable that “abusive behavior” is the category of government-reported content with by far the lowest action rate from Twitter of all those it reports at just 12% of reports acted on, versus 40% for copyright issues, 63% for trademark infringement, and 92% for promotion of terrorism. That may in part be because government representatives often have thin skins and those opposing them may be considered by Twitter to be in need of special free speech protections, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that 12% was representative of the proportion of overall abuse reports that get acted on by Twitter.
Zuckerberg manifesto removes reference to Facebook monitoring ‘private channels’ – Business Insider (Feb 17, 2017)
Kudos to Mashable, which first noticed that one paragraph in a 6,000-word manifesto had been changed from the original to the final version (I covered the manifesto itself yesterday). And kudos, too, to Business Insider for following up with Facebook to find out why it was removed. The official explanation is that the paragraph talked too specifically about a capability Facebook hasn’t finalized yet, but it’s at least as likely that Facebook worried it would cause major privacy concerns. The paragraph in question talked about using AI to detect terrorists in private channels, which rather flies in the face of Facebook’s commitment to encryption and protecting privacy. As with much else in the letter, I think it was likely intended to be mostly aspirational rather than specific, but the original paragraph was rather tone deaf about how such an idea would be received even in such high-level terms.
via Business Insider
Trump Hits Apple Over FBI San Bernardino iPhone – CNET (Feb 17, 2016)
This was the second occasion when then-candidate Trump took aim at Apple during the campaign, with the first being his insistence that Apple should make more of its products in the US rather than overseas. This attack was over Apple’s refusal to create a backdoor to the iPhone in order to assist the FBI with its case against the alleged San Bernardino shooters. This call escalated into a call for a boycott of the iPhone (all while members of Trump’s team continued to tweet from iPhones).